I have sat down to write you this letter exactly 43 times. That sort of blows my mind. I can’t believe in 18 short months we are going to be wishing you a good day as you begin your journey in education.
I was informed that any day now, we will be receiving a request to take you in for pre-Kindergarten screening. As a natural worrier, almost a year ago I did some quick research to make sure you were hitting all the developmental goals at the appropriate age so you’d be ready for Kindergarten.
You had already could do 80% of the ones for 5-year-olds.
We attempt to strike a balance between feeding the fire that is your love of learning and not pushing you. This was a conversation I had countless times with parents as a teacher.
Their child was bright, skipping along, enjoying school, receiving good marks, and finishing homework quickly, easily, and without assistance. The parents would ask for more work to do at home. I really tried to explain to the parents…that’s what we WANT. That’s what we want for all kids, that doesn’t mean we should try to cram more into a child’s day and brain.
This is not a problem, this is the solution. Struggling with school isn’t the litmus test of success.
There are many reasons for this. First, kids get so little time just to be kids. To push them into stress and worry earlier, is a mistake, in my opinion. Second, if you are so far advanced in school, you will often be bored out of your mind.
I certainly had kids who could have easily been completing 3rd, 4th, and even 5th grade work in 2nd grade. The problem with that is, in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade, they will have no new content to digest and will then be led to increased boredom, which (often) leads to disliking school.
And that’s not good for anyone.
You recognize and write your name. You’re doing very well with counting. You know almost all of your letters.
None of this has been forced on you by daddy or I. We are not trying to hold you back in the slightest, but I am consciously attempting NOT to push you forward either.
I could get on the track where I think the right pre-school will lead to the right elementary school, which will lead to the right middle school, which will lead to the right high school, which will lead to the right college.
The problem I have with this is, you could be the very smartest 3-year-old in the world, doing calculus in 5th grade, and graduating from Harvard when you’re 15. However, if you’re not the “right” kid, none of that makes one bit of difference.
There is value in playing. There is value in learning how to be in a world with others that you disagree with. There is value in being bored. There is GREAT value in developing all parts of who you are as a person. I love that your greatest worry right now is how many bites of dinner you have to eat to get an orange. Or what toy you want to ask for from Santa (because there are too many awesome choices).
So much of everything else can be learned later. If you grow up to be president (please don’t), but can’t fill up your own gas tank or balance your check book, are you really a success? For me, the answer is no.
There will come a day when you are worried about your GPA, school really challenges you, and you wonder how you’re going to practice your trumpet, get to basketball practice, and write your final paper for English class (Honors, obviously).
This day will come far too soon. I don’t see any reason to hurry it up.
If you come to that day happy, with a variety of strengths (not just academic), kind, funny, generous, and wise (which is very different from smart) that will be a win in my book. And I will happily make you some hot chocolate before I go to bed as you begin your paper at 10p the day before its due.
(yes, I’m not going to stay up with you-Mama needs her sleep and I did my work in high school, I’m not going to do yours too)
(yes, I know you’ll be starting your paper the night before it’s due…you are your father’s son, after all!)
However, the most important piece for me that day, is if you are still Finn. The Finn who sings along in the car, dances around making karate noises, cuddles when he is sick, likes to share stuffed animals and broccoli, hides in the closet only to jump out and scare me, and changes his mind about what his favorite color is 1,500 times a day.
If you’re not that Finn, then all of the other stuff doesn’t matter one bit.
If you are that Finn, then all of the other stuff doesn’t matter one bit, either.
Life is what you make of it. For the good, bad, and ugly. I’ve made my life into a space where I’m married to my best friend, have the best son, amazing family, and true friends. And at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.
These pictures make me laugh. I have been accused of being excessive with the amount of pictures I take of you (who me? couldn’t be!). These are the first (in what I’m sure will be an endless supply from here on out) where you are obviously annoyed with me because you want to do something so much more fun than be standing around posing for pictures.